The Elizabethtown College women’s tennis team kicked off their fall season with the King’s Invitational in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Saturday, Sept. 13 and Sunday, Sept. 14. The Blue Jays won one flight in a tournament that included opponents from King’s College, Marywood University, Misericordia University, Muhlenberg College, and Susquehanna University.
On day one, Etown was represented by seven singles players. Before inclement weather forced play to be suspended for the day, five Blue Jays made the semifinals of their draws. Freshmen Kaitlyn O’Connor, Meghan Chemidlin and Laura Gribble were all victorious in their quarterfinals. O’Connor defeated King’s Lauren Derenzi in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4 to advance in the third singles flight. Chemidlin also lost just four games in her 6-3, 6-1 win over Marywood’s Melani Kobela at number four. At fifth singles, Gribble advanced to the semifinals via a bye. Freshmen Amber Burd and Caity Stencler fell in the quarterfinals of sixth and seventh singles, respectively.
Juniors Taylor Helsel and Erin Clay advanced to the semifinals before being defeated. Helsel, the top returning player for the Blue Jays this fall, won her quarterfinal at number one singles 6-2, 6-3 over Misericordia’s Carly Young before falling to Muhlenberg’s Sara Finger, 6-0, 6-2. Clay received a quarterfinal bye at flight two singles, but lost 6-1, 6-4 to Marywood’s Abby Doud in the semifinals.
Several matches were in progress Saturday before rain forced play to be suspended until Sunday. Chemidlin, who was up 6-3 when play resumed, won the second set 6-1 to advance to the finals of number four singles against King’s Hannah Jenkins. Chemidlin captured Etown’s first tournament victory of the season with a 6-1, 6-3 win. O’Connor and Gribble bowed out in the semifinals of flights three and five singles, respectively.
After the conclusion of singles play, the Blue Jays had two doubles teams in action. At second doubles, O’Connor and Chemidlin received a quarterfinal bye before they fell in the semifinals to Muhlenberg’s duo of Young and Nellie Chimil 8-5. In the third flight, Gribble and Burd managed to get their match with Marywood’s Nicole Sinclair and Devin Zombek to a tiebreaker, but lost 9-8(7-2) to conclude play for the Blue Jays.
For such a young team, Helsel was encouraged by their results. “We had five freshmen and two juniors, but that didn’t stop us from getting a win at number four singles and the majority of us making it to the semifinals,” Helsel said. “This was a very successful weekend.”
O’Connor agreed that the team did well, and added that it was good preparation for the team moving forward. “It helped us get used to the higher level of play and showed how college is different than high school,” O’Connor said. “I think we’ll be really prepared for ITAs and the spring season.”
Etown concludes its fall season at the USTA-ITA Southeast Regional Championships on Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27.